Earthquakes are an unavoidable part of life here in Japan. About 1,500 earthquakes occur yearly. Minor tremors occur almost daily somewhere in Japan which may cause slight swaying of buildings.

2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

During the earthquake on March 11 strong shaking was felt here in Akita. But luckily very little (if any) damage was done. A power outage was experienced from immediately after the earthquake until the following day. In the proceeding days fresh food supplies in shops and supermarkets ran low, and gasoline was rationed.

2008 Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku earthquake

1983 Sea of Japan earthquake

Keitai notification

Many Japanese mobile phones get alerts when an earthquake is just about to happen. This gives you a few precious seconds to turn off gas, get under a table, and hold onto a table leg.

What to do


  • Secure an exit.
    When you feel an earthquake, open a door right away. This ensures an escape route after the earthquake is over.
  • Get under the nearest desk or table.
    Try to get under a sturdy desk or table.
    Cover your head with a cushion or pillow.
  • Do not rush outside.
    Usually a strong earthquake will end within a minute or so. Seek shelter in the room you’re in and stay there until it’s over.


  • Turn off all appliances.
  • Turn off the gas main, and unplug electrical equipment.
  • Turn off the breaker when evacuating after the quake. (It may catch fire if electric appliances fall over due to an earthquake and contact inflammable objects nearby.)
  • If you are near water, evacuate to higher ground, a tsunami evacuation area or a tsunami evacuation building.
  • Follow evacuation instructions given by the municipality.

Note: There is a danger of landslides or slope failure at the feet of hills or in steep slope areas. Make up your mind quickly to get away from such dangerous areas.

Crisis information

Emergency Kit

It is advisable to have an emergency kit in case of a natural disaster. Basic items to keep in your kit include:

  • Water: Two litres of water per person per day (Include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order)
  • Food: That won't spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember to replace the food and water once a year)
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Battery-powered or wind-up radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Cash: Include smaller bills, such as ¥1,000 bills and change for pay phones
  • Emergency plan: Include a copy of it and ensure it contains in-town and out-of-town contact information
  • Rescue Card for foreign residents

See also